The Lord of the Rings (film)

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An epic of glaring proportions.

An adaptation of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings into three films (directed by Peter Jackson) with great commercial and critical success. The movies were filmed together and released one year apart for the holiday seasons 2001-2003.

One of the biggest movie projects ever undertaken, the overall budget was around $285 million and principal filming for all three films took place over 18 months in Jackson's native New Zealand. The entire project took eight years, factoring in the early pre-production and the fact that additional pick-ups were filmed in between each films release. The trilogy was a great financial success, with the films being the 19th, 10th, and 3rd (8th, 4th, and 2nd following the third film's release) highest-grossing films of all time, respectively, unadjusted for inflation. The films were critically acclaimed, winning 17 out of 30 Academy Awards nominated in total, and received wide praise for the cast and for the innovative practical and digital special effects. Return of the King is the first (and currently only) fantasy movie to ever be awarded the Best Picture Oscar.

The films were remarkably faithful in many respects, though many changes were made due to the many factors involved with adapting such a monumental work. Among the most significant changes (some of which are controversial) include the nature of Saruman's death, the characterization of Faramir, Arwen, Denethor, Gimli and the removal of various subplots to make the story as a whole more appealing to movie audiences or to streamline their remarkably nuanced events from the books. The theatrical versions were lengthy epics (the first two clocking in around 3 hours and the third 3 1/2 hours), and the Special Editions (released before the succeeding movies) added at least another half-hour to each films running time. Unusual for such a thing, Peter Jackson has stated that the Special Editions are not an actual Directors Cut but merely a fan-friendly extension to enlarge the world of Middle-Earth and see what things they left out of the faster paced Theatrical Versions.

A three-part adaptation of The Hobbit followed, released at one-year intervals in 2012, 2013 and 2014. Many actors (such as Ian McKellen and Andy Serkis) from the LOTR trilogy returned to reprise their roles, even if those roles weren't in The Hobbit to begin with.

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring was added to the National Film Registry in 2021.

The following tropes are common to many or all entries in the The Lord of the Rings (film) franchise.
For tropes specific to individual installments, visit their respective work pages.

A through C

  • Absurdly Sharp Blade
    • Interesting real-life lampshading: Viggo Mortensen actually went to the prop department and asked them to make him a prop whetstone he could use as part of his costume. He realized that if Aragorn would be killing so many orcs, he'd have to keep his blade sharp somehow.
      • In the extended edition, there's even a scene of him sharpening his sword while resting in Lothlorien.
  • Accent Adaptation: Jackson gave his Orcs a lower-class English accent. Gimli was given a Scottish accent to mirror what in the text was simply gruff speech. (By John Rhys-Davies, who was raised in England by Welsh parents).
    • Of course, by this time the Scottish accent had already been used in countless depictions of Dwarves—it was almost expected of him to do that. Which is interesting, as according to Tolkien, Dwarvish bears many similarities to Semitic languages, not Scottish.
    • Almost all hobbits in the movie have some form of an English accent, except for Pippin, for whom Billy Boyd used his native Scottish accent. (He had attempted a more conventional English accent, but switched back to the Scottish accent because the English accent ruined his comic timing.) It was given the justification that, in the story, the Tooks are from a different area of the Shire that is much more hilly, reflecting the terrain of Scotland, as well as the fact that the Tooks invented golf.
  • Action Bomb: In The Two Towers, during the battle at Helm's Deep, the Uruk-hai placed a bomb in the drainage tunnel at Helm's Deep, with an Uruk with a torch blowing himself up to set it off.
  • Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene: The heartwarming and peaceful scenes of The Shire in Fellowship of the Ring (especially in the Director's Cut), filled with laughter, friendship and happy children (what a warrior lays down his life to protect) is what makes us actually care whether or not Frodo and the Fellowship defeat The Lord of the Rings or not.
  • Action Girl: Éowyn aside, Arwen also has a moment in the limelight in the first film.
    • Word of God reveals that Arwen was initially slated to appear at Helm's Deep to fight alongside the heroes. It was eventually realized that this may be pushing it a little too far (even Liv Tyler hated the idea), and in the end she was replaced by Haldir.
  • Adaptational Angst Upgrade: Aragorn is more unsure about returning to the throne of Gondor, and must be convinced by Elrond to do so.
    • Faramir is also an example. In the book he immediately recognizes the danger of the ring, thereby becoming the only "normal" Human in the entire story who isn't tempted by the ring. Of course, Rule of Drama prevailed, so in the movie he follows in his brother's footsteps and tries to get the ring to Gondor, due to massive angst over being the less-favored son. The Steward also treating Faramir as The Unfavorite also was added to justify this change.
      • Denethor could apply as well, while his actions are more or less the same, the book actually gives him reason to despair in the end while the movie manages to keep it much more ambiguous.
  • Adaptational Villainy: The movie version of Denethor lacks most of the redeeming qualities that he has in the books, in which he is a Good Is Not Nice character who nevertheless was a capable leader until driven off the Despair Event Horizon.
    • Although never a villain, Faramir was more hostile to the hobbits in the movie than he was in the books, and is tempted by the Ring, until Samwise tells him what the ring did to Boromir.
  • Adaptation Distillation: Many favored aspects of the books were taken up a notch, while much detail was glossed over.
    • Most notably, the removal of the Tom Bombadil sequence, which doesn't really add anything incredibly significant to the narrative of the books.
    • The final chapters of the books, the Scouring of the Shire, were removed entirely. Even if they were somewhat anti-climactic, they gave the book a darker vibe, arguably one of Tolkien's recurrent themes.
  • Adaptation Dye Job: Boromir in Fellowship of the Ring is described as having dark hair. For the movies they gave him light brown, bordering on blond. Same thing goes for Faramir.
    • The elves of Lothlórien are shown to be uniformly blonde, though only elves with particularly strong Vanyar ancestry, such as Galadriel, have blonde hair in the books.
    • In fact, Frodo's the only one of the hobbits who could truly be called a brunet, whereas in the books it specifically says that blond hobbits are a rarity.
      • Although Pippin was mentioned by Tolkien to have blonde hair
    • Some fans argue that this applies to Legolas. While his hair color is never mentioned in the book, one scene at night apparently describes his head as "dark", so it can be argued if this applies to his hair color.
  • Advantage Ball: Rather than worry about such things as tactical realism, advantage in battle seems to be principally a matter of who makes the most badass entrance, regardless of such matters as numbers and equipment.
  • Age Cut: Averted in the Fellowship Of the Ring when Elrond talks to Gandalf about an incident thousands of years in the past. We cut to a shot of Elrond in the past and he looks exactly the same, since elves are immortal.
  • Agony of the Feet: Sean Astin stepped on a big piece of broken glass when wading into the river, and Viggo broke his toe kicking a helmet (see Throw It In).
  • All There in the Manual: While not necessary to understand the movies, reading the books can provide valuable background information that just couldn't be fit into the films.
    • Particularly The Hobbit, the events of which are recapped in less than a minute. If you haven't read it, quite a few of the little continuity nods will go right over your head. And seeing an aging Bilbo leaving Middle Earth won't be nearly as emotional.
  • Always a Bigger Fish: In the Fellowship of the Ring. The goblins have the party surrounded in the mines of Moria—until the Balrog makes its first appearance. They run for it. So, needless to say, does everyone else.
  • And This Is For: Samwise Gamgee, the normally non-threatening gardener, even did this, dedicating Orc kills: "This is for Mr. Frodo! (stab) And this is for the Shire! (slice) And this is for my old Gaffer!" (thrust)
  • The Apple Falls Far: When the hobbits almost tumble into a pit in Moria, Boromir drops a torch, which is followed by a long tracking shot of it falling into the abyss.
  • Armor Is Useless: There are many instances of mooks and redshirts dying from a single blow despite being encased in armor. Most notably, Orc and goblins tend to wear particularly heavy-looking plate armor, yet often go down to a single swipe or arrow. Aragorn and Legolas also go without armor for a majority of the series, despite being some of the most capable fighters.
    • Aragorn might be wearing leather armor the rest of the time, it's a bit hard to tell. Not the best armor out there, but someone who calls himself a "Ranger" would prefer mobility over protection.
      • Additionally, Legolas may well be be wearing mithril below his clothing, since he IS an elf.
  • Army of the Dead: in the book, they're ghosts who accompany Aragorn to prove his kingship, inspire fear and awe, and ensure only stone cold badasses are brave enough to fight alongside him. In the film, they are the Cavalry.
  • Arrow Cam: The Fellowship of the Ring features another "point of view" arrow shot.
  • Ascended Extra: Arwen's transition from book to screen.
  • Ash Face: Merry and Pippin, after setting off a firework at Bilbo's birthday party.
  • Audible Sharpness: Any time a sword is pulled out of a leather scabbard, with a metal-on-metal sound effect. Lampshaded in the DVD audio commentaries: they originally wanted to do it realistically, but they put them in after test audiences reacted badly, as our subconscious is trained on and used to the trope.
  • Award Bait Song: The films gave us three stellar Tear Jerker examples: "May It Be" and "In Dreams" from Fellowship of the Ring and "Into the West" from The Return Of The King. "May it Be" was nominated for an for Oscar, "Into the West" was nominated and won. "Gollum's Song" from The Two Towers averts the trope by being in a minor key, having a much darker tone, and being sung in a dissonant, shrill voice.
  • Awesome Moment of Crowning: The Return Of The King was pretty much all about getting to this moment, since Aragorn was the rightful ruler all along. And in the end of the movie, the coronation gets a good five minutes and a reunion for Aragorn and Arwen, which makes it an almost perfect Awesome Moment of Crowning.
  • Back-to-Back Badasses: In the film adaptation, during the battle of Helm's Deep, Aragorn and Gimli fought the Uruk-hai while the main gate is repaired.
  • Badass Army:
  • Badass Boast: "I am a servant of the Secret Fire, wielder of the flame of Anor. The dark fire will not avail you, flame of Udûn!"
  • Badass Normal: Both Eomer and Eowyn. It must run in the family.
  • Badass Longcoat: Aragorn wears a dark-green "ranger coat" throughout most of the series. Unfortunately, he sheds it when he becomes king.
    • On that note, the other Dunedain rangers, who only appear in storyboarded scenes and the trading card game, wore longcoats, as well.
  • Battle Butler: Sam.

Faramir: Are you his bodyguard?
Sam: His gardener.

  • Battle Cry: Due to the martial nature of the series, there are a few examples:
    • the Rohirrim : "FORTH, EORLINGAS!"
    • Aragorn's cry of "ELENDIL!"
    • And Theoden's "DEATH!"
    • An amusing example: when Boromir is teaching Merry and Pippin how to sword fight, they charge him shouting "For the Shire!"
  • Battle in the Rain: Helm's Deep.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Frodo is badly stabbed on Weathertop, and later loses a finger, Boromir catches several arrows in his chest, Aragorn spends the whole trilogy bloody, bruised and scraped. Practically all of the cast is harassed by either the Watcher in the Water or a cave troll. But all pretty boy Legolas gets over the course of the trilogy is a bruise and a little smudge of dirt. Éowyn made it through almost the entire Battle of the Pelennor Fields unscathed, with nary a cut or bruise... until the Witch-King smashes her shield with his gigantic flail.
    • Théoden also gets a spear in the shoulder during the battle of Helm's Deep. He's not badly injured, due to his armor, but he has to switch his sword to his other hand for a bit.
  • Behind the Black: In The Two Towers, Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli stop their run after Aragorn senses something. The Three Hunters run behind a rock and miss, by a matter of inches, being trampled by a huge freaking contingent of horses and riders that are coming over the hill. Why the particularly perceptive Legolas or Aragorn couldn't see or hear the riders coming from a mile off is left unexplained, but the scene is played purely for effect. In the books, the hunters did in fact spot the riders coming from a long way off and had plenty of time to prepare themselves.
  • Beta Couple: Faramir and Eowyn (see Hooked Up Afterwards).
  • Big Bad: Sauron
  • Big Badass Battle Sequence: At least one per movie.
  • Big No: The films have a whole bunch of them, most of them reasonably done:
    • Gimli has a Big No when he discovers the tomb of Balin, which dissolves into mournful blubbering.
    • Frodo also has one upon Gandalf's "death."
    • Aragorn's scream upon thinking Merry and Pippin are dead in the second film (when he kicks them helmet) isn't quite distinct, but seems to be a Big No. Interestingly, Viggo Mortensen's tremendous howl of anguish here was actually due in part to the fact that when he kicked the helmet, he broke his toe—they kept that take in because it was, as such, his best.
    • Right at the climax of the third film, when Frodo succumbs to the lure of the One Ring while standing on the edge of the Crack of Doom. It's actually two smaller "no"s, then followed by what might be the biggest "NOOOOOOOOOOO!" ever heard as Frodo puts on the Ring, alerting the Big Bad to his presence.
    • Another in the third film is screamed twice by Eomer upon the discovery of his uncle King Theoden dead and his sister Eowyn almost dead on the battlefield. Here it is one of the rare effective moments of Big No.
      • Less of a NO and more of just a wordless scream. Which could be why it's so effective.
    • Yet another in the third film is Legolas in the final battle When Aragorn's about to be killed by a troll. It's definitely in the extended cut and the trailers at least.
    • When Treebeard gathers himself after his shock at seeing the destruction of the forest around Isenguard, he bellows a Big No (or at least a very near equivalent scream) which echos across the entire woods. But it soon turns out he's not just shouting in anger, he's also calling the rest of the Ents to gather against Saruman and destroy Isengard.
  • Big Damn Heroes: As in the books, it happens at Helm's Deep and twice at Pelennor Fields, though a little varied. Unique to the films are two scenes in FOTR:
    • When Frodo is stabbed at Weathertop, the Ringwraith reaches out, likely to grab the Ring. Cue Aragorn literally jumping in, wielding torch and sword. He fights the five of them off, setting most of them on fire.
    • At Amon Hen, Merry and Pippin are surrounded by Uruk-hai; one runs in and seems to be ready to decapitate them (even though his orders say to bring them alive and unspoiled), when Boromir jumps right in between them and kills the Uruk.
    • There's also a scene in The Two Towers when Merry and Pippin have been abducted and Pippin was about to be eaten by an Orc when they were unintentionally rescued by the surprise attack of the Riders of Rohan.
  • Big Eater: All the Hobbits, but especially Pippin.
  • Big Shadow, Little Creature - Sam, a hobbit, tries to scare a squad of Orc warriors this way. Unlike in the book, it doesn't really work. Also unlike the book, he kills them all easily.
    • He doesn't frighten them off, no, but they're clearly apprehensive until they actually see him.
  • Black and White Morality: For the most part, though Boromir and Frodo are otherwise good guys who succumb to the evil temptation of the ring without meaning to. Aside from that, though, pretty much everyone besides Gollum is either clear-cut good (if they oppose the forces of Mordor and Isengard) or evil (Denethor, Wormtongue, and the leaders and armies of Mordor and Isengard) and even Gollum falls squarely into the "evil" category at the end of The Two Towers and stays there in The Return of the King.
    • However, many of the "evil" characters (Saruman, Wormtongue, Denethor, and even Sauron himself) weren't always evil, and that point is made very clear several times in the books. "For nothing is evil in the beginning. Even Sauron was not so."
  • Black Knight: Sauron from the intro of the Fellowship of the Ring opening wears a huge suit of armor, roars monstrously, and swings a gigantic mace everywhere, sending scores of soldiers flying with each blow. He is modeled after his former master Morgoth from Silmarillion, and the books (or at least the appendix) did mention him taking part in this particular battle personally, so at least it's fairly justified.
    • The Witch-King fulfills this trope in both the books and the movie.
  • Black Speech: Sauron and the Ring-wraiths use it.
  • Blood From the Mouth
  • Bloodless Carnage: Okay, some blood, but with all the hacking and slashing, they had to keep the rating from being too high.
  • Bow and Sword in Accord: Aragorn (though he doesn't use it often). Legolas, most other elves, Faramir's rangers, and the more heavily armored Gondor archers.
    • The Orcs of Moria too.
  • Boxed Set
  • Brave Scot: Gimli may be from Middle Earth, but he comes across as this with his thick Scottish accent and habit of calling everyone "laddie".
  • Brick Joke: Nobody tosses a Dwarf!
    • A blink-and-you'll-miss-it example: early in The Fellowship of the Ring the four Hobbits stop for "second breakfast," but Aragorn pushes them on. Pippin complains, so a couple of apples come flying out of the bushes from Aragorn's general direction. One hits Pippin in the head, and he looks up at the sky in confusion. Much later, just after the Ents have trashed Isengard in The Two Towers, Pippin mentions that he's hungry, then sees some apples floating in the water. He grabs one, then looks up in the same manner.
  • Bring Him to Me: Alive and unspoiled.
  • Broken Aesop: Narrowly averted in that Peter Jackson originally wanted simultaneous physical battles between Aragorn and Sauron (in the flesh) and between Frodo and Gollum, with Frodo pushing Gollum into the fire. He also reverses Frodo and Sam's pity for Gollum, removing a couple key lines of dialogue, and implies the Ring was deluding Frodo into feeling that way. Fortunately, this Alternate Character Interpretation was mostly cut out, even from the extended edition, outside of the odd lembas escapade.
  • Buffy-Speak: Pippin during the creation of the Fellowship: "You need people of intelligence in this kind of mission... quest... thing."
  • Butt Monkey: Gimli in The Two Towers and Return of the King (Not so much in Fellowship, and not at all in the book).
    • He did have a few small moments of it in Fellowship though.


  • Butterfly of Death and Rebirth: The white moth that brings giant eagles to the rescue when Gandalf is imprisoned at Orthanc, and again when the Gondor army is at the gates of Mordor. (Only appears in the Jackson films, not the book).
  • Call That a Formation?: While lip service is paid to forming battle-lines, the battles quickly devolve into total chaos.
  • Captain Obvious: Legolas, who tells the audience what a diversion is. Every single line he's given in the film is a Captain Obvious. The writers joke about it on the commentary.
  • Catapult Nightmare: Aragorn had one of these in ROTK.
  • Cavalier Consumption: Denethor is more interested in eating his chicken and tomatoes than he is in Faramir's safety.
  • The Cavalry: Minas Tirith is about to be overwhelmed by an enormous horde of Orcs—and then the Rohirrim appear at the top of the hill, blowing their horns.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The small glass vial containing the Light of Eärendil, given to Frodo by Galadriel in the first film. It comes in handy in the third film, when Frodo is lost in Shelob's lair. The elven rope given to Sam also comes in handy, though it's only given a bit of relevance in the extended edition. Given the length of time between the release of the film in theaters, this turned into a bit of a Brick Joke.
    • In the book all items received by the Fellowship in Lothlorien fit this trope (most notably the Elven cloaks and brooches). She even gives Sam a box of dirt. The movie keeps most of them with the exception of Boromir's belt (in the book it served to help Faramir realize that he indeed saw his dead brother and not just a vision).
    • In the beginning of the second film, Saruman instructs his mooks to dam the river. At the end of the films, the Ents break the dam, dramatically destroying Saruman's army and Elaborate Underground Base in the ensuing flood.
    • If counting where Bilbo and Frodo's sword, Sting, received its name in The Hobbit killing the giant spiders of Mirkwood as they attacked the ensnared dwarves, it's perhaps one of these or a Brick Joke that Samwise uses Sting to kill Shelob.
  • Chewing the Scenery: The lure of the One Ring apparently encourages elves from Valinor to do this, if Galadriel is any indication.
  • CCG Importance Dissonance
  • Chromatic Arrangement: All merchandise, including the special edition DVDs, was color-coded by film. Fellowship was green, Two Towers was red, and Return of the King was blue.
    • Except, irritatingly, the Complete Recordings soundtracks: Fellowship was red, Towers blue, King green.
      • These colors were made to match those of the limited edition soundtracks released at the same time as the films, which were designed before the films were even released. So in a way the Complete Recordings show the original color concepts, then they went and changed them for the extended edition DVDs.
  • Child Soldiers: Glimpsed in The Two Towers.
    • Fridge Horror: Where are they at the end of the battle? As well as all the elves that went to help them. We see how many people ride out at the end?
      • Supposedly, they all had death scenes filmed, although the battle scenes are too dark to tell.
  • Climb, Slip, Hang, Climb: When Frodo and Sam are following Gollum to Shelob's lair.
  • Collapsing Lair: Barad-dûr, when Sauron is finally defeated. See Keystone Army.
  • Color Wash: Especially noticeable in day-for-night scenes. There's even a scene in Return of the King where Pippin is searching for Merry, that appears as a daylight scene in the theatrical version but was regraded to night for the extended version.
    • An interesting example occurs with several shots used more than once (Green Dragon Inn exterior, Boromir's last stand, a certain close-up of Elrond) in different movies: frame-by-frame comparison shows exactly the same imagery with drastically different colors.
  • Come with Me If You Want to Live: Aragorn gets introduced this way in Bree, as a wilderness expert who can outrun the Nazgûl. More so in the film, since they set out that very morning after they outwit the Nazgûl ambush. Film-Aragorn fits the trope to a T:

Frodo: Where are you taking us?
Aragorn: Into the wild.
Merry: How do we know this Strider is a friend of Gandalf?
Frodo: We have no choice but to trust him.

  • Convection, Schmonvection The lava pours out of Mount Doom within feet of Sam and Frodo at the end of the movie. Then the eagles swoop down and pick them up.
    • Lampshaded by John Rhys-Davies in the DVD commentary.

John: There you have your old pyroclastic lava flow, not a good thing to be... err... in. Added to which there may be a little bit of sulfur there and not too much oxygen.

D through F

  • Daylight Horror: The Ringwraiths are frightening at night. They prove to be just as frightening when they chase Arwen and a sickly Frodo across a bright green field in the middle of the day.
  • Darker and Edgier: The three movies seem to alternate between this and Lighter and Softer compared to the original book. They drop a couple of the more light-hearted scenes of the book (Tom Bombadil, for example) and focus more on the bloody battles (easier to do in a visual medium), while omitting some of the creepier book-scenes and adding a lot of comic relief.
  • Death by Adaptation: Haldir. (In the book, the elves don't even show up at Helm's Deep).
    • Also the Mouth of Sauron, whose fate is unknown in the books.
  • Death of a Thousand Cuts: How the Fellowship kills the cave troll in Moria.
  • Death Wail: Aragorn lets out one when he finds Merry and Pippin's elven belts on the Orc funeral pyre. They're not actually dead though, as he later deduces from his Ranger tracking skills. In Real Life, it was because the actor had just broken his toe on the helmet he kicked.
  • Despair Gambit: Sauron and his minions do a lot of this, often with considerable subtlety. Perhaps the most overt example is at the beginning of the Battle of Pelennor Fields, when the Orcs start the siege by catapulting the heads of Gondorian soldiers into the city.
  • Determinator: The Nazgûl; Frodo himself and Gollum to some extent.
  • Digital Head Swap: One of the techniques used to create the proper scale for the Hobbits.
  • Disney Death: Alongside Frodo's examples from the book that made it into the film, we also have Aragorn's plunge off of the cliff in The Two Towers, alongside Gollum's 'death' right after going through Shelob's tunnel.
  • Disney Villain Death: Alongside examples from the book, we also have a couple unique to the films, those being Saruman's (Uncut version only) and Denethor's deaths. Though it should be noted that unlike most versions of this trope, we actually see the result of Saruman's fall.
  • The Dog Shot First: Inverted- see trope page.
  • Deus Ex Machina: The eagles showing up in the final battle to keep the Ringwraiths at bay.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending
  • Engagement Challenge: Similarly to the book, Elrond is disapproving of Aragorn and Arwen's romance until Aragorn proves he's worthy of being King. The scene in the third movie when he arrives bearing Andúril was added to show that he had changed his mind and given them his blessing.
  • Epic Flail: The Witch-King's weapon of choice. Also, Sauron wields a huge mace in the flashback to the battle with the Last Alliance.
  • Epic Movie
  • Establishing Character Moment: Quite a few.
    • Sam telling Frodo the promise he made to Gandalf in the beginning. ("Don't you lose him, Samwise Gamgee!")
    • Merry and Pippin's mischief at Bilbo's birthday party.
    • Legolas defending Aragorn against Boromir.
    • Gimli grabbing his ax and attempting to destroy the Ring right at the council.
    • Saruman chastising Gandalf for consorting with Hobbits.
    • Lurtz chokes the first Orc he sees within seconds of his birth.
    • Gandalf arriving in Hobbiton for Bilbo's birthday party. All the children are excited to see him, while the adults look on disapprovingly.
  • Evil Chancellor: Grima Wormtongue.
  • Evil Gloating: See Fate Worse Than Death.

Saruman: Who now has the strength to stand against the armies of Isengard and Mordor? To stand against the might of Sauron and Saruman ... and the union of the two towers? Together, my Lord Sauron ... we shall rule this Middle-earth!

  • Evil Is Hammy: Saruman, Gollum, and the Witch King.
  • Evil Tower of Ominousness: The (original) Dark Tower, Barad-Dûr. It's actually depicted as under construction during the first film; the completed tower itself is first seen at the end of the film, from the Seat of Amon Hen; and revealed in the second film.
  • Exclusively Evil: Orcs and Uruk-Hai.
  • Fade to White: Peter Jackson enjoys doing this, especially at the end of the third film.
  • Fate Worse Than Death: The heroes (and the unfamiliar reader) assume Frodo suffered such a fate. Subverted, somehow, as Aragorn deduced the messenger was lying.

Mouth of Sauron: Who could have thought one so small could endure so much pain? And he did, Gandalf. He did.
Aragorn: (smirks, strolls up to the Mouth of Sauron, and cuts of his head) I do not believe it. I will not.

  • Fanfare: The fellowship theme.
  • The Films Of The Book
  • Final Speech: While both Boromir and Theoden had some last dying words in the book, they really spice it up in the films, especially with Boromir's last line to Aragorn: My brother, my captain, my king.
  • Foe-Tossing Charge: Sauron during the prologue, to get to Isildur.
  • Forced Perspective: Used to great effect to help the average-height actors playing hobbits and dwarves seem to-scale with their man and elf co-stars.
    • Also used in reverse in one shot from The Fellowship of the Ring: While climbing Caradhras, Frodo falls and drops the Ring. There is a shot of the Ring lying in the snow in the foreground. The filmmakers used a larger model of the Ring in this shot to make it seem closer, while still in-focus. (This is even justifiable in-story, as the Ring does change size several times - how else could it fit on the fingers of a human and a hobbit?)
  • Foreshadowing: In an Extended-Version-only scene, Frodo and Sam see a group of wood elves on their way to the Grey Havens while they're leaving the Shire. The final film ends with Frodo going to the Grey Havens and leaving Middle Earth with the rest of the elves.
  • Friends All Along: The first time we see Arwen.

G through J

Saruman: "The old world will burn in the fires of industry. The forests will fall!"

    • The vision Frodo sees in Galadriel's mirror is of the Shire being burnt to the ground and its inhabitants enslaved by Orcs.
  • Groin Attack: Happens a couple of times to Orcs during battles.
    • Particularly to an Uruk-Hai at Helm's Deep, Gimli hits him with an axe.
  • Have I Mentioned I Am a Dwarf Today?: Gimli is extremely prone to this.
  • Heartbeat Soundtrack: Deagol's death in the third movie.
  • He Didn't Make It: The Two Towers has a strange example because that scene was filmed before the script was totally ironed out, the director wasn't sure what actually did happen to Aragorn, so decided to keep the dialogue vague to save time.

Éowyn: Where is Lord Aragorn?
Gimli: He fell.

  • Helmets Are Hardly Heroic: Unless you are a Rider of Rohan, or an Elf soldier, or a Dwarf, or a soldier of Gondor.
  • The High Queen: Galadriel. In a case of Meta Casting, she is played by Cate Blanchett, famous for portraying Elizabeth I, a Trope Codifier of High Queendom.
  • Hilarious Outtakes: While Jackson and company are saving the gag reel for the high definition Limited Special Collectors' Ultimate Edition, a few bloopers have surfaced. Sean Astin just wants a close-up.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Sauron's demise becomes a Karmic Death when you realise it was his corruption and degradation of the innocent hobbits Smeagol and Frodo and their resulting conflict over the ring in Mount Doom that causes it to fall into the fire.
  • Hooked Up Afterwards: Faramir and Éowyn, as the book chapter of them meeting and falling in love over time was cut, but restored in the extended edition.
  • Homage Shot: Peter Jackson shot one bit at Bilbo's birthday party in Fellowship of the Ring ("Proudfeet!") as an exact copy of a shot in Ralph Bakshi's animated Lord of the Rings. Jackson even helpfully points this out in the commentary. A circle-round shot of the four hobbits at Weathertop is also lifted from the original, although the camera moves much faster and Aragorn is absent. Same goes for the four hobbits hiding under a root by the wayside with the Nazgûl leaning in above them.
    • The scene at the black gates of Mordor appears to be an homage to the Wizard Of Oz.
  • Hopeless Suitor: Éowyn for Aragorn
  • I Am Not Left-Handed: When Gandalf confronts Saruman while the latter is speaking through the possessed King Theoden, Sauruman mocks him with the declaration "You have no power here, Gandalf the Grey!". At this, Gandalf casts off his grey outer cloak, revealing himself (to possessed!Theoden's shock) as Gandalf the White before successfully casting Saruman out of the king's mind.
  • I Lied

Frodo: Sméagol promised!
Gollum: Sméagol lied.

Gimli: Certainty of death, small chance of success... What are we waiting for?

Gimli: Nobody panic! It was deliberate. It was deliberate.

Pippin: If we go south, we can slip past Saruman unnoticed. The closer we are to danger, the further we are from harm. It's the last thing he'll expect.
Treebeard: That doesn't make sense to me, but then you are very small. Perhaps you're right.

    • Which surprisingly makes sense. The last thing any army expects is for the enemy to go straight to their most heavily protected base. For a Hobbit (small and subtle) like Pippin, it's a plausible strategy. For an Ent like Treebeard (that can be seen from a mile away), its nearly impossible.
      • In the book, this was the whole point of having the fellowship walk to Mordor.
  • In Vino Veritas: At the end of The Return of the King, Sam avails himself of some liquid courage before going up to talk to Rosie. Merry and Pippin drop their jaws. The next scene is Sam and Rosie's wedding.
  • Ironic Echo: Gandalf finds a record of Isildur's journal, accounting the finding of the One Ring.

Isildur: "I will risk no harm to the ring. It is precious to me."

"I would have followed you, my brother... my captain... my king."

    • Gimli and Legolas before the final battle:

Gimli: I never thought I'd die fighting side by side with an elf.
Legolas: How about side by side with a friend?
Gimli: ...Aye, that I could do.

      • Note that these are their final lines of dialogue in the trilogy.
  • It May Help You on Your Quest: Galadriel's gifts. All of them. Even moreso in the book, where she gives Sam a box of dirt with a mallorn nut in it. It helps.
  • I Want Them Alive: and un-spoiled.
  • Jabba Table Manners: The Steward of Gondor messily gobbling down his dinner as he apathetically sends his youngest son to his death in the film.

J through M

  • Kneel Before Frodo: Aragorn and a courtyard full of people bow to the hobbits during his own coronation.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Performed by Sam in one of the Osgiliath scenes in The Two Towers when he whines to Frodo that "by all rights, we shouldn't even be here!" - referencing the fact that the two characters never go to Osgiliath in the book.
  • Large Ham: Gandalf gets lines like "I will draw you Saruman, as poison is drawn from a wound!" and "YOU...SHALL NOT...PASS!. Also see "Evil Is Hammy" above
  • Leave No Survivors: In the films both Saruman and the Witch-king tell their minions to kill everyone in Helm's Deep and Minas Tirith, respectively.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: a number of Internet parodies compared this to Aragorn's final charge.
  • Left for Dead, Never Found the Body, No One Could Survive That, Not Quite Dead: Aragorn's plunge off the cliff with the warg.
    • Could also apply to Gandalf in Moria.
  • Leitmotif:
    • The "Fellowship theme," a traditional balls-to-the-wall triumphant brass theme as heard over the montage of the fellowship traveling out of Rivendell towards Caradhras. Later used for the Three Hunters, Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli. Notable in that, according to the composer Howard Shore, it never quite makes a full reappearance after the events in Moria; at least one note is off, or the rhythm is changed.
    • The "Hobbit theme," a sort of jaunty flute piece with bassoons and oboes evoking pastoral countryside. Plays over the "Concerning Hobbits" narration. Gets more and more wistful the more the hobbits, especially Frodo, go through Break the Cutie - only to be restored to full brass-filled glory when everyone bows to the hobbits during Aragorn's coronation.
    • The "Rohan Theme." Wistful when we first hear it on the Norwegian fiddle when the heroes arrive at Edoras, it later appears in full-on brass mode for Helm's Deep. Plays over the charge of the Rohirrim at the Battle of Pelennor Fields, with Norwegian fiddle and brass sections working together.
    • The "Gondor Theme." Majestic, soaring theme that wouldn't sound entirely out of place in a pirate movie. Heard as Gandalf and Pippin arrive at Minas Tirith and gallop up the city to see Denethor, as well as over the lighting of the beacons. An early version of this theme is played on solo French horn as Boromir speaks at the Council of Elrond.
    • The "Anduril Theme" is related to the Gondor Theme and associated with Aragorn's march to kingship.
      • Actually that's the "Minas Tirith Theme", first heard in an Extended scene in Fellowship when Boromir and Aragorn talk in Lothlórien. It seems it originally was never meant to be associated with Andúril, but Howard Shore changed his mind.
    • The "Mordor Theme." Dark and dramatic with lots of brass and ominous chanting when needed. Heard as Gandalf witnesses the arrival of the Nazgûl. Used to excellent effect first as a threatening sound when Sauron first appears before the Allied Army, single-handedly stopping their attack with his very presence, and then blasting into angry brass and choir as he sweeps away scores of soldiers with casual swings of his mace.
      • There's another "Mordor Theme" as well, which is a dissonant, menacing melody, often featuring an instrument called a rhaita, which gives the theme a slightly middle eastern feel. It is featured at its most ominous during the siege of Gondor, as the giant battering ram, Grond, breaks through the gates.
    • "Gollum's Theme," appears all the way through the second film whenever Gollum is around, but most notably as a song in the end credits sung by Emiliana Torrini.
    • The "Isengard Theme," played with heavy brass and percussion in the Caverns of Isengard or when the Uruk-hai are on the move. Unlike other themes, which are in more conventional timing, Isengard's theme is done in 5/4 time, which sounds a little bit off or unnatural (as most music these days is done in 4/4 or 2/4 time), to reflect the twisting of nature and industrial methods of Saruman.
      • The percussion in question is actually banging an opened piano's wires with chains.
    • The theme for the elves, or at least Galadriel's elves, is first heard as an ethereal, dreamy piece with generous amounts of Cherubic Choir and One-Woman Wail. In the second movie, though, it gets transformed into a Badass military march during the scene where the elven army comes to the rescue at Helm's Deep.
    • "The History of the Ring," representing the power of the One Ring, especially when it changes hands or when someone tries to take it—plays under the title card of each movie, so easily mistaken for the theme to the trilogy itself—or perhaps it is, in a way.
    • Eowyn's theme (the only theme other than Gollum's associated with one character), played usually whenever she's standing at the front of the Golden Hall.
    • The March of the Ents/General Badassery about to Happen theme (can be heard here).
      • Actually called "Nature's Reclamation", or simply the Nature theme. Though it's not always directly related to nature. In any case, the scene of dawn at Helm's Deep doesn't count, since the music was edited in (it originally sounded like this).
    • There is a Moria theme too, profoundly sad and full of grandeur, with a soft chorus of deep (Maori) voices in Khuzdul. It plays once, as the Fellowship walk through the deserted corridors of what was once a bright and majestic city under the mountain.
    • The Theme of the Gray Havens. Introduced rather late into Return, during the most desperate moment of the siege of Gondor, when Pippin believes all is lost. "I didn't think it would end this way," he says to Gandalf. Gandalf tells him "The journey doesn't end here." Then the theme enters, soaring, majestic, and utterly beautiful, providing the musical accompiantment to Gandalf's description of the Heaven of Middle Earth. "White shores. A far, green country, with a swift sunrise." Comes to its full fruition when the last of the Elves and Frodo leave Middle Earth for the Gray Havens.
  • Legend Fades to Myth: According to the prologue, this is why things came to be as they were at the end of the Third Age: people forgot about past threats, and grew complacent. Sauron exploited that.
  • Lethal Chef: Eowyn, as seen in the extended edition. She provides Aragorn with a bowl of stew—he eats one bite, and tries to pour it out as soon as her back is turned.
  • Light Is Good / Dark Is Evil:Subverted and played straight.
  • Limited Special Collectors' Ultimate Edition: Arguably the most infamous example.
  • Live Action Adaptation
  • The Man in the Mirror Talks Back: When Gollum talks to Smeagol, it's via some variation on this mechanism. (Most noticeable in The Return Of The King.)
  • Manly Tears: Boromir's Final Speech:

I would have gone with you to the end, my king.

  • Man On Fire: The Steward of Gondor and nearly Faramir.
    • Also the Nazgul that Aragorn throws a torch at on Weathertop
      • Also includes an Ent on fire at one point.
        • Audiences applauded when the dam broke and that Ent ran to the water and put himself out.
  • Marquee Alter Ego: Andy Serkis felt depressed about his groundbreaking work as Gollum being relatively anonymous. So the filmmakers shot a flashback scene as Smeagol for him.
  • Meaningful Echo: The tune from "Concerning Hobbits" (the piece that plays as the Shire is introduced) appears at the end of the first movie in " The Breaking of the Fellowship".
    • After Gandalf removes the spell of age from Theoden, Eowyn looks at him and says, "I know your face." When Theoden lays dying at the Pelennor field, he looks up at Eowyn and says the same. In the book, he died without knowing she was there, but his last moment here is definitely a heartwarming one.
  • Meaningful Funeral: For Theoden.
  • Melancholy Moon: At the waterfall in Ithilien.
  • Million Mook March: Saruman's army in The Two Towers.
    • And Sauron's outside the gates of Minas Tirith in The Return of the King.
  • Mono-Gender Monsters: The movie's portrayal of Orcs, being all male and spawned from mud pits.
    • Only Uruk-Hai are shown to spawn from mud pits.
    • In the books Orcs are said to "breed after the fashion of the Children of Iluvatar" (elves and men) but only males are seen.
      • Maybe. It could be a case of dwarf women. In The Return of the King, the orc who relays Gothmog's order to fire the catapults at Minas Tirith looks and sounds distinctly feminine (well, as far as orcs go).
  • Mr. Exposition: Legolas when he's not being Captain Obvious
  • Mr. Fanservice: Most of the Fellowship as well as some secondary characters were targets of the Estrogen Brigade even before the books were adapted for screen. Having the characters played by delectable-looking actors merely made this trope more prominent.
    • From about 1969 to 1971, there was a movement among fans of Leonard Nimoy to cast him as Aragorn in a live-action film version (this is long before Bakshi). The official fan club was quite serious about this, especially after Nimoy was cast as a romantic, dramatic stage magician and master of disguise in Mission: Impossible.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Several, ranging from Boromir realizing he was seduced by the Ring to Wormtongue coming to understand that Saruman's gambit isn't overthrow of Rohan (possibly involving him getting Eowyn), it's absolute genocide of the human race.
    • Grima seems to believe that Saruman is biting off more than he can chew and that he might be able to play both sides against the middle - right up until Saruman shows him the magically frenzied 30,000 superhumans in plate armor. The look on his face is priceless.

N through P

  • Named Weapons
  • Natural Spotlight
  • Never Tell Me the Odds: In The Return Of The King, when Aragorn suggests that Gondor march against Mordor as a diversion, Gimli comments, "Certainty of death, small chance of success... What are we waiting for?"
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: In The Two Towers, Aragon stops Theoden from killing Wormtongue because too much blood had already been spilled. Wormtongue turns around and gives Saruman the secret to defeating the defenses at Helm's Deep thus causing nearly all the defenders to be killed. Too much blood indeed.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Rivals: How the Ring gets destroyed.
  • Nightmare Face: In Fellowship of the Ring, when Bilbo wants to take a look at the One Ring. Holy crap!
    • This may be a shout-out to Jackson's past as a maker of films that make fun of horror movies. In the book, Bilbo appears briefly to turn into a Gollum-like figure.
  • Noodle Incident: The "incident with the dragon" is this to anyone who hasn't read the books.
  • Notable Original Music: Lord Of The Rings gave certain cultures and factions their own distinctive, powerful theme that has made the music of the trilogy as much an identifying mark as anything.
    • Particularly the themes that went along with Rohan, which involved a Norwegian spike fiddle for its distinctive sound.
  • Nothing but Skulls: The Paths of the Dead. Parodied hilariously in DM of the Rings.
  • Oculothorax: In the film version, Sauron is depicted as a literal flaming eye. In the books, the term "The Eye of Sauron" is not meant literally, but rather as a symbol of Sauron's vigilance, evil and influence; which several characters describe or perceive as being like a great eye Wreathed in Flames.
    • The original covers for the U.S. hardcover edition showed Tolkien's painting of the Eye, and some of his descriptions might give readers the wrong impression.
  • Oh Crap: The series features many examples.
    • Despite being nothing but a big CBS eye made out of flames, Sauron somehow manages to convey his shock when he realizes his Soul Jar is at the one place it can be unmade.
    • Bernard Hill as King Theoden does a series of great Oh Crap faces:
      • In The Two Towers, Theoden asks "Is this all you can conjure, Saruman?", then looks extremely unnerved when the Uruk-Hai answer "no" by blasting a hole in the Deeping Wall.
      • Two more in The Return of the King: the arrival of the Rohirrim at Minas Tirith where they see just how huge the orc army is, and then when it seems they've actually won, the Oliphaunts arrive.
      • Theoden gets another when he sees the Witch King coming right at him on its flying steed, in the moment before the fell beast bowls his horse over and drops it on him. The camera actually zooms and lingers on Theoden, who clearly lets out a sigh rather than, say, trying to dodge out of the way.
    • That huge orc army gets their Oh Crap moment as the Rohirrim charge, completely ignoring the arrows and spears (slightly) thinning out their numbers.
      • In a subversion, the orc army gets a Oh Crap when Gimli, Legolas and Aragorn get off the boats and charge at them. They Oh Crap BEFORE seeing that these three dudes brought an army of ghosts with them, at which point they simply panic.
      • Similarly:

Corsair: Boarded?! By you and whose army?
Aragorn: This army.

    • And then there's Gandalf giving a big speech to the Gondorians about how they can fight whatever comes through the gate. When the first thing through is three huge trolls, Gandalf gets a look on his face like, "Well, I wasn't expecting that."
    • Let's face it, the whole Battle of Minas Tirith was a series of alternating Oh Crap moments for both sides. Denethor's Freak-Out. The gate getting knocked down by Grond, the Rohirrim's arrival followed by the Oliphaunts. Gandalf nearly getting killed by the Witch King, and then the latter really gets killed by Eowyn and Merry. And of course Aragorn bringing a big damn undead army to clean up the place.
    • There's also Saruman's reaction to the Ents trashing Isengard. It's exactly the face you'd expect to see if someone was woken up with the news that the trees had come alive and were trashing his yard.
    • An arguable example is Boromir's deadpan "They have a cave troll."
      • Spoken in an almost Graham Chapman voice.
    • Legolas gets a pretty good Oh Crap look in Moria when he realizes there's a Balrog down there.
    • The collective expressions of the entire Mordor army when they realize their master Sauron has been defeated.
    • When Arwen summoned a tidal wave to beat the Nazgûl. Granted, they don't have faces...
    • Merry, Aragorn and Gandalf's faces turn from triumph to horror when they see Mt. Doom implode.
    • There is another great one in the prologue battle, when Sauron makes his appearance on the battlefield. These mighty Dunedain have just mopped the floor with the Orcs, and are about to declare their victory...then all of a sudden a black-armored giant with a very big mace strides into their midst...
  • Offhand Backhand: Employed a few times in battle scenes.
  • Offscreen Rebuilding: Minas Tirith looks spiffy when Aragorn is crowned at the end of Return of the King.
  • Offscreen Teleportation: Gandalf manages to move from Bilbo's party to Bag End in Fellowship before Bilbo himself gets there, even though he is seen sitting in the audience while Bilbo is running home, made invisible by the Ring. All without crossing paths with him, either. He is a wizard, but not even the most powerful beings in Middle-Earth can manage actual teleportation.
    • This is a bit better explained in the extended edition, where it shows Bilbo spending some time packing up for his journey after returning from the party; Gandalf simply shows up while Bilbo is getting ready to leave.
  • Off with His Head: Done several times, including to the Mouth of Sauron instead of the Death Glare from the book.
  • One-Dimensional Thinking: The Nazgûl at the Fords of Bruinen in the first movie. Instead of just riding back into the forest they ride downstream where the wave is sure to catch them.
    • Justified. Flowing water canonically disorients and confuses them almost to the point of helplessness. Only the presence of the One Ring combined with the will of their Captain managed to get them in the stream in the first place, and after that their horses were the ones in control.
  • One-Man Army: Aragorn.
  • One-Scene Wonder: Bret McKenzie as Figwit. One scene, no lines, and an entire Wiki article
  • One-Way Visor: The Mouth of Sauron in the return of the King Extended Edition.
  • Onrushing Army: The orcs love to charge. As do any humans fighting with them. Aragorn and his army do it too at the climax of Return Of The King.
  • Orcus on His Throne: Sauron is a rather less sketchy figure than in the novels; he is instead a literal flaming eye, on top of Barad-Dur. Peter Jackson originally planned for Sauron to take physical form in the battle in front of the Black Gate, but thankfully thought better of it.
  • Parental Marriage Veto: Emphasized a lot more in the films with Elrond's outright disapproval of Aragorn's and Arwen's relationship. In the book he is saddened, but gives the conditions not out of spite but to provide the best for his daughter.
  • Parenthetical Swearing: Gandalf manages to make the word "Steward" sound... like something it's not.
  • Phosphor Essence: Galadriel glows with a bluish-white light when she explains how powerful and terrible she would become were she to accept the Ring.
  • Plot-Mandated Friendship Failure: Inverted. Just when he needs him most, Frodo sends Sam away due to Gollum's ploy. Moments later he's paralyzed by Shelob. Luckily, The Power of Friendship prevails. (In the book, they're just separated in the maze of caves.)
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: The removal of Tom Bombadil and the excision of the Scouring of the Shire.
    • Peter Jackson himself invoked this in his explanation as to his complete rewrite of the meetings of Faramir and Frodo's group: in the books, he lets them go free after learning of their quest and agreeing with it; in the film, he keeps them captive in order to take The Ring. Jackson said specifically this was because after the first book, the Ring's power to corrupt became an Informed Ability until it surfaced again at the tail-end of Return; in order to remind the viewer that it was basically evil incarnate, and keep with the rules Tolkien himself set, he had to have Faramir be tempted by the ring.

Sam: "By all rights we shouldn't even be here!"

    • Also, he wanted to move Shelob to the third movie because anything was going to pale next to Helm's Deep, and that left Frodo and Sam completely out of (action-y) danger for the entire movie. There had to be a threat, and poor Faramir got drafted.
      • When Tolkien commented on ideas for a film version by Forest J. Ackerman, he said they should probably skip the Hornburg entirely so that the Ents' attack on Isengard as well as the final battle would look that much more impressive.
    • Postponing his acquisition of Anduril to the third film gave Aragorn greater credibility as a ranger, earlier on, as he got to demonstrate his knife skills more. Having him leave Narsil's shards in Rivendell also avoided the visible incongruity of a trained survivalist, who needs to travel light, hauling a priceless historical artifact all over the wilderness with him.
    • In the books, there's a lot of random elves who show up, do one incredibly plot-crucial thing, and are never seen again. Most of their jobs went to Arwen, so she'd have something to do to make the audience actually give a damn about her. Elrond got the rest.
  • Pretty Boy: All of the male elves. Well, except for Elrond, who is old, but you can still tell that he must have been Bishonen in his younger years (he is played by Hugo Weaving, after all).
  • Pretty in Mink: Furs would obviously be worn by the royalty and high nobility.
  • Prodigal Hero: As the related trope of Rightful King Returns would suggest, Aragorn is an example of this, having fled from his duty and being forced to take on his destined responsibility as king.
  • Protagonist-Centered Morality: Aragorn doesn't seem to have any qualms about decapitating an unarmed herald who issues from the Black Gate to discuss Sauron's terms for the West's surrender. While the books had The Laws and Customs of War in effect, here it was more like "Anyone else want to negotiate?"

Q through T

  • The Queen's Westron: Nearly all characters speak with an English accent (or other U.K. accent, like Scottish or Irish), quite possibly as a Translation Convention for the Common Tongue of Tolkien's universe.
  • Radial Ass-Kicking: The Balrog chases them off before the fight actually happens but in the Mines of Moria, the Fellowship finds itself completely surrounded by a really absurd number of goblins.
  • Rain of Arrows: Elves, mostly. Orcs manage it during the siege of Minas Tirith with ballistae, though.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: Legolas' famous display of elf agility in mounting a horse in Two Towers was entirely improvised in post when Peter Jackson realized that, in throwing together the warg attack sequence, he had forgotten to shoot Orlando Bloom getting on a horse.
    • Actually, Orlando Bloom fell off his horse and broke his rib and thus couldn't do the stunt.
  • Recursive Translation: A particularly wonderful set of Chinese bootlegs for the first two films, although only the one from The Two Towers is currently available online.
  • Red Sky, Take Warning: "The Red sun rises. Blood has been spilled this night!"
  • Rebel Prince is Aragorn.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Gimli and Legolas.
  • Relationship Compression: Éowyn/Faramir
  • Retired Badass: Bilbo's primary role.
  • Reverse Arm Fold: Gandalf does this on the rare occasion that he's not clutching his staff or a pipe.
  • Right Under Their Noses: Pippin wants the Ents to drop him and Merry off right at Isengard: "The closer we are to danger, the further we are from harm. It's the last thing he'll expect!" Lampshaded when Merry looks at him like he's crazy and Treebeard says the plan makes no sense to him, but Pippin was bullshitting. He really wants the Ents to see the desolation so they'll get mad and go to war.
    • The whole plan to destroy the ring rests on this trope.
  • Rousing Speech: The charge of the Rohirrim and the siege of the Black Gate.
    • When Bernard Hill/Theoden said that the tipping of the spears with his sword was his idea to begin with.

"Forth, and fear no darkness!"

  • Rule of Cool: Peter Jackson has admitted that he and his design team weren't exactly sure whether a Balrog literally had wings or not in Tolkien's idea, but decided to go with the look in the films "just because it looked cool."
    • Legolas's stunts.
  • Run or Die: The goblin horde in Moria, but especially the Balrog.
  • Sad Battle Music: Pippin sings a song for Denethor. It's a sad melody. At the same time, Faramir and his battalion charge Osgiliath, and it doesn't go well.
  • Scare Chord: When Gandalf almost touches the One Ring and senses Sauron in it.
  • Scarily Competent Tracker: In the Two Towers, Aragorn actually listens to the rocks to track the Uruk-Hai.
    • Tolkien's avowed fondness for "Red Indians" is showing there.
  • Scary Impractical Armor: Sauron, and a few other bad guys.
  • Scenery Porn: Some shots just gush over the scenery, like the mountains in the opening of the second movie, and the beacons of Gondor lighting up. The movie has been referred to as the "the New Zealand tourism board's best ad".
    • Scenery Gorn: Mordor. The mines of Moria. All those skeletons (shudder). Also the destruction of Isengard.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: The troll, that Aragorn was fighting at the end of The Return of the King, runs away when Barad-dûr is exploding. Also, the goblin horde at the mines of Moria scatters when Balrog approaches.
  • Serkis Folk: Gollum. The Trope Namer.
  • Shield-Bash: Eomer gets in a few nice shots with his shield on some orcs at the Battle of the Black Gate.
  • Shield Surf: Legolas does this down some stone stairs during the battle for Helm's Deep, blazing a trail for shield surfers everywhere.
    • Then he surfs down the trunk of an Oliphaunt in the third film.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Pippin's song in the third film.
  • Shout-Out: Off the top of my head: To the Ralph Bakshi animated Lord Of The Rings (the Nazgûl emerging from the tree as the four Hobbits hide in the roots), Shaka Zulu (the pre-Battle Of Helms Deep build-up), Gladiator (Aragorn's dazed horse ride to Helm's Deep; Frodo being carried by the Eagles [1])
  • Shown Their Work: Six DVDs worth.
  • Shut UP, Hannibal: Aragorn to the Mouth of Sauron.
  • Simple Score of Sadness: The solo hardanger fiddle version of the Rohan theme.
  • Skeleton Government
  • Solemn Ending Theme: "May It Be for the first movie, "Gollum's Song" for the second.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: In the book, one of the Ents is set on fire during parley with Saruman and presumably dies. In the film, it is lucky enough to be ignited just before Isengard is flooded and douses its head in the rising waters.
  • Split Personality: Gollum and Smeagol
    • Split Personality Makeover: Most notably with their voices, but there are subtle visual differences as well. (Smeagol's pupils are far more dilated than Gollum's, for instance.)
      • Metaphysical theses have been written on the "diagnosis" of DID for Gollum/Smeagol. Tolkien did not mean it this way. Several characters in the book, notably Sam, dialogue with themselves when they're trying to decide something. Jackson made it look more like what happens in Fight Club.
  • Spontaneous Reverb: When Pippin sings for Denethor in Return of the King.
  • Start of Darkness: Smeagol's is shown in flashback as the intro to the third movie.
  • Stern Chase: The Nazgûl. "They will never stop hunting you." Also, the Three Hunters.
  • Storming the Castle: The Tower of Cirith Ungol.
  • Stranger in a Familiar Land: The Hobbits after returning to the Shire. Merry and Pippin stare longingly at their military uniforms, while Frodo is burdened by his wounds and his experience as a Ringbearer. Sam is best able to cope with being back home, but shares a private toast with the others at the Green Dragon.
  • Stupid Statement Dance Mix: "They're taking the Hobbits to Isengard"
  • Stab the Sky: "For Gondor!."
  • Standard Female Grab Area: Aragorn does this to Eowyn in The Two Towers, when she sees Gandalf working his magic on Theoden. She tries to fight him off until he tells her to wait.
  • Starring Special Effects: Gollum, particularly in The Two Towers.
  • Suicidal Gotcha: Gandalf jumping from the top of Orthanc onto Gwaihir's back.
  • Sweet on Polly Oliver: An out-of-universe example: As revealed in the DVD supplementals, Viggo Mortenson apparently dated a female extra that was costumed as one of the (male) Rohan warriors. The other cast members never let him hear the end of it.
  • Take the Wheel: In a rare medieval example, Eowyn makes Merry take her horse's reins mid-battle.
  • Tall, Dark and Handsome: Aragorn is definitely this in the films. He also cleans up very nicely.
  • Technicolor Death: Although it's right in the prologue rather than the end of the movie, death for Sauron basically means becoming the exploding man.
  • Tempting Fate: "Is this it? Is this all you can conjure, Saruman?"
    • "No one's coming to save you!" (orc gets speared by Rohirrim)
  • This Is Gonna Suck: "They have a cave troll."
  • This Is Sparta: "You! Shall Not! Pass!". Then the bridge practically broke in half.
  • Throwing Your Shield Always Works: Lurtz throws his shield at Aragorn during the skirmish at Amon Hen, pinning him to a tree. Aragorn gets free of the shield just in time to dodge another attack.
  • Title Drop: In every single film.
    • -> "You shall be the Fellowship of the Ring."
    • -> "To stand against the might of Sauron and Saruman, and the union of the Two Towers."
    • -> "Authority is not given to you to deny the Return of the King, steward!"
    • In addition, the names of chapters from The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings are brought up on occasion.
    • Gandalf whispers Riddles in the Dark, as he wonders if that chapter of The Hobbit might not be entirely true.
    • "There is only one Lord of the Ring, only one who can bend it to his will. And he does not share power!"
  • Tragic Hero: Boromir, whose desire to protect his people at all costs makes him easy prey for the power of the Ring.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: Gandalf returns in the second film, although anyone who read the book would spoil that anyway.
  • Translation Convention: The movies made a point of having characters speak in Tolkien's invented languages when appropriate, with English (Common) subtitles for the 99.9% of viewers who don't speak Elvish. However, when native speakers were talking among themselves, they reverted to Common (or Westron). Thus Galadriel speaks to Elrond in Common rather than Sindarin; the Witch-king addresses his orc minions in Common rather than Black Speech; et cetera.
    • This last case is actually subverted: there are many dialects of Orkish, one for each tribe, with not that much in common with one another or with the Black Speech per se (which is only spoken by the Orcs in Barad-dûr and the captains of Mordor). So they use the Common Tongue.
  • Translation Train Wreck: There's a fantastic Chinese subtitle track out there, here's a page with some screens.
  • Troperiffic
  • True Companions: Both in film, and out of film. By the end of the filming process, nobody in the cast wanted to leave, they loved each other so much.

U through Z

  • Unlimited Wardrobe: Arwen and Eowyn.
    • Ngila Dickson said specifically that she was a fan of designing spiffy gowns for Arwen.
  • Vertigo Effect: Used by Peter Jackson in both The Fellowship of the Ring (when Frodo senses the arrival of the Black Rider in the Shire) and The Return of the King (Frodo's first look into Shelob's lair).
  • Viewers Are Goldfish: Amazingly, this was defied by Jackson and company when the studio wanted them to put a "Previously On..." for The Two Towers. Unfortunately played straight with footage like Boromir's death and Isildur cutting off Sauron's ring (which was repeated at least three times during the course of the trilogy).
  • Voice of the Legion: Galadriel gets a bit of this when she goes off on a tangent while being tempted by the Ring. In the extended edition of Return of the King, Saruman gains some echoes when he tries to intimidate/manipulate Theoden, Gandalf, Aragorn and the rest of the party from Helm's Deep.
  • Wait Here: At Weathertop, Aragorn says he's going to have a look around and for the hobbits to "stay here." Naturally it doesn't work out exactly as planned.
  • Walk Into Mordor: It's what they do. But not simply!
  • Weapon Twirling: Boromir twirls his sword a few times while waiting for the goblin horde to break into Balin's Tomb in Moria.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Though it's somewhat justified by their presence not existing in the book, what happened to the elven army at Helm's Deep? Are they all victims of Death by Adaptation?
    • The supplementary book "The Lord of the Rings: Weapons and Warfare" states that they died to a man.
    • Saruman and Wormtongue's unexplained disappearance in the theatrical cut of RotK is another example. Rectified in the extended cut.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Cute?: Invoked a couple times:
    • Wargs look nothing like wolves, because killing wolves is no longer the acceptable behavior it was when Tolkien wrote the books.
      • Of course, they are still referred to as "Wolves of Isengard" at one point.
    • They specifically avoided having the mûmakil use their trunks as "hands" as well as certain other behaviors that might make the audience identify them too closely with Real Life elephants.
  • Why Don't Ya Just Shoot Him: Sometimes Gandalf uses his magic powers, and sometimes he doesn't. He does when battling Saruman, or when facing the Balrog, or when he scares off the Nazgûl that are chasing Faramir's men on the road to Minas Tirith. But at other times he seems to forget he's a wizard and is content simply to whack bad guys with his staff, most notably when he's fighting in hand-to-hand combat in the siege of Minas Tirith or in the final battle at the gate to Mordor.
    • Potentially justified in that as a Maia, Gandalf is supposed to drive the races of Middle Earth to defend themselves, not win the war for them. It's one thing when he's battling another Maia (like Saruman or the Balrog), but using his powers to destroy random enemies attacking other people who could potentially fight their own battles might fall outside his jurisdiction.
    • Exactly. If you watch, he only ever really uses magic to combat magical threats such as the Balrog, Saruman or the Nazgul. The rest of the time he's just a wise badass chess master.
    • Peter Jackson reportedly hated having Gandalf use magic, and did it as sparingly as possible.
      • This is fairly faitful to the novels, in which only sparingly does Gandalf use his magic, and only when there is no other alternative.
  • Windows of the Soul: "There was no lie in Pippin's eyes", declares Gandalf after the former has looked into the Palantir, meaning that he has not revealed Frodo's mission to the Enemy.
  • World of Cardboard Speech: Sam's monologue at the end of The Two Towers.

There's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it's worth fighting for.

  • World of Ham: Ask Gandalf and Saruman and even the Witch King, as well as Aragorn and the Dead King as to why this trope was casted onto this page.
  • You Didn't Ask: When Frodo and Sam hook up with Gollum to guide them, Frodo asks Gollum to "take us to the Black Gate" of Mordor, which he does. They see how massive and impenetrable the entrance is, and when they are about to make a charge for it anyway, Gollum pulls them back and tells them there is another way in. Sam asks why he didn't mention this before. Well... you didn't ask...
    • In the book Gollum points out that Frodo never told him what his intentions were, just saying that he'd go free if he guided them to the Black Gate safely.
  • You Shall Not Pass: The Trope Namer, since Gandalf doesn't use these exact words in the book.
  • You Know What You Did: Many Tolkien fans have lamented Peter Jackson's decision to insert this, to drive a wedge between Frodo and Sam when the one absolute element in the books was their unswerving loyalty to each other. Then again, doing nothing but walk all over Mordor gets kinda boring after a while, and Jackson didn't have Tolkien's detailed descriptions of the journey to help him out.
  1. actually, that's more of a shout-out to The Road Warrior; come to think of it, the Mumakil are more like Road Warrior battle cars than war elephants